Friday, March 25, 2011

Veggie Grill Animal Acres Benefit

Ok so what is better than Veggie Grill + Animal Acres = NOTHING.  So Veggie Grill threw a benefit for Animal Acres in which 50% of all proceeds would be donated in order to build a new barn for their animal sanctuary.  Now as you all may know, I LOVE Animal Acres. It is truly a magical place in which you see what the relationship between man and animal could be.  While there are fences separating animals, they have large areas to play and prance.  The birds are able to go just about anywhere.  They show no fear of humans; in fact, most will walk right up to you and knock your hand around for a nuzzle. Chickens, pigs, cows, donkeys, goats -- it doesn't matter.  They all want affection, companionship and a friendly nudge.  It really is amazing to see.

So I obviously went to Veggie Grill to help support Animal Acres (and because their food is pretty amazing).  The second I walked in the door, I was struck by how busy the restaurant was and I realized that THIS is one of the many reasons I went vegan.  A small call-to-arms brought people out in droves. I stood in line with a woman and her omnivorous husband who trekked all the way from Calabasas just to support Animal Acres. That is love. That is community.  That is what honestly made me pause and rub goosebumps from my arms.  In this city, it's easy to be caught up in bullshit, to forget there is a world outside of our insulated Hollywood dramas.  But there is a giant world, one of compassion that inspires me every day.  I know that my choice to be vegan may not save the world, but it's one step closer!  And I've never felt so at peace in my own skin before.  I believe this is because I know that I am living in line with my ideals. It's easy to be cynical.  Hell, I spent years that way, but now I feel a certain lightness.  I won't call it religion or spirituality, but rather knowledge that I am doing something that I believe in.

I haven't heard the official numbers in for monies raised but I hope it's high.  I want places like Animal Acres to thrive.  I can't wait until next weekend when I will go volunteer :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wynn Hotel Las Vegas

So this weekend was March Madness.  Becca and I went to Las Vegas to meet up with her dad and step-mom for the second year in a row.  We stayed at Platinum Hotel this time but I made a point of saying that I'd like to dine at the Wynn because they now offer vegan menus at all their locations.  We went to the Country Club: A New American Steak House.  We figured that this would give her 'rents plenty of options while still allowing us to eat well.  We started with the tempeh crab cake pictured.  The flavor was great, not much like a crab cake per se but really nutty and delicious. The sauce, which I think was made out of walnuts, was awesome.  I really enjoyed it.  I think if they used a little seaweed powder or something, it may have given it a certain "fishiness" that would make it taste more authentic.

Next I ordered the Gardein Chicken while Becca got the Quinoa Pasta. The chicken was well seasoned and really tasty.  I wasn't in love with the sweetness of the mango salsa but I kinda knew that going in.  The plantain crisps were a bit bland and could have probably used a little salt.  However, the green sauce on the plate was fantastic. I just kept smothering my chicken in it.  Finally, the purple yam was awesome.  It was really great to mix all the different flavors together.    Becca's pasta was very creamy.  She loved it.  I didn't love the sauce but I'm not a huge fan of white sauce in general.  Suffice to say she loved it.

I wanted to do some dessert but the only vegan one they had available was the sorbets, which I was lukewarm about.  So all in all, the meal was fantastic. However, there are some negatives. First of all, the original menu I looked at when choosing this restaurant was much more extensive than the actual one for the day.  Also, they do not give you a vegan menu if you do not request it, nor do they advertise that they have vegan options.  Outside each restaurant they only post the meat menu, which I find annoying.  I'm sure Steve Wynn has it on the lock-down and will make changes, but at least let the people know it's available!  Finally, $38 feels a bit steep for a piece of Gardein chicken.  It was very tasty but come on, people. Really??

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gobble Green

So I got a Groupon for GobbleGreen, a vegan company that provides frozen meals.  I've always been curious but it's a hefty price tag. However, for $99 for one week of meals (3 per day plus a snack), I figured it would be worth it to try.  I received my shipment last night.  I was so excited to go through the list.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of corn-based meals.  Sadly you can't specify food allergies.  They do offer gluten or soy free meal plans but there isn't a point in which you can give them preferences or allergies or anything.  Bummer. Hopefully they will work on that in the future.  The other thing is that each meal only has the microwave directions available. I guess that there are oven or stove directions on the website but that's just another step.  While I appreciate the idea of nuking everything in the microwave, I also worry that it may destroy important nutrients in the process.

So I tried my first meals.  I got sweet potato croquettes with spinach, which smelled divine.  The tasting was a tad bland. I wish there was a bit more salt.  Then I had the Festive Siesta Stir Fry.  This was basically seitan, potato and green beans with some spice.  This was pretty tasty, almost buttery.  The seitan doesn't freeze super well though so it fell apart a bit but was still nice.

Finally, I do have a chocolate chip cookie that I put into the 'fridge to defrost.  I actually think that this should be a new weight loss tool.  Like freeze all your desserts and when you want sugar, take one out and put in the refrigerator to defrost.  Wait a couple of hours then taste.  It will at least test will power and help curb cravings. I swear as soon as I knew I was going to eat that cookie soon(ish) I no longer yearned to eat it.  Plus, by the time it thaws I will not be so full.  Yay.

I am looking forward to the rest of my meals this week. We shall see what Gobble Green has up their sleeve.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


So I live about a mile from Locali.  I have attended a number of bake sales there and gotten Tofurky pizzas,  but never actually eaten one of their sandwiches.  Believe me when I say that this is a mistake.  Locali sandwiches are A-mazing.  Becca and I were in a hurry to get to Griffith Park to get our hike on, but decided to stop and grab a quick sandwich.  The picture does not do this sandwich justice at all!  First of all, it was ginormous, like a real Reuben.  Next, it had a delicious sour sauerkraut that I wanted to eat every day.  I'm not sure what kind of cheese they used but I assume that it's Daiya.  All in all, this sandwich was so awesome that we ate the entire thing at Locali rather than taking it to go as originally planned.

Soooo of course the following day, when I woke up hungry, where else could I go but Locali!  I ordered the Badass Breakfast Sandwich.  Let me tell you that their vegan sausage is magnificent!  I asked what they use but the server was either unknowledgeable or secretive because he wouldn't tell me.  The maple flavor was good, but I might ask for less next time because I loved the chipotle sauce.  Becca ordered the bagel sandwich and added avocado.  It was great! Plus, it totally counts as at least one serving of vegetables.  Becca always falls short of her goals so I am always happy when she orders something that includes veggies.

So all I can say is that everyone should hustle down to Locali and get their grub on.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cafe Gratitude

As always, I am supremely late on my blog.  So last Tuesday Cafe Gratitude opened in Larchmont.  Of course I had to rush right over since I loved Gracias Madre, their sister restaurant in San Francisco.  Becca and I met on a very rainy night and raced straight inside.  Our server (Lizzy?) was fantastic and on point all night long.  We each got a glass of wine and started with the I Am Grounded, which are garlic and olive oil roasted potatoes topped with spicy cashew nacho cheese and pink sea salt.  Let me say, it was amazing.  There could have bit a little more bite to the nacho cheese but they were stellar.

Then I asked our server what I should get. I was going to compare two options but the second I said I Am Magical, she was like "Absolutely yes!"  Her enthusiasm totally sold me on their veggie burger, for which they just altered the recipe. First of all, the bread that they use to make the bun is awesome.  Seriously I probably could have eaten a ton of that.  On top, there was lettuce, pickle, onion and a mustard sauce.  The burger has a bean base so it's a bit squishy, which can be disconcerting to some omnivores but I thought it was great.  There was a robust garlic flavor inside and since garlic is my fave, I loved it.

Becca ordered the I Am Transformed taco plate.  I didn't get a picture because I can't eat the corn but she enjoyed it very much. It was two corn tacos with brown rice, black beans, salsa roja, guacamole and the cashew nacho cheese.  It smelled really good.

So of course we couldn't leave without sampling their raw deserts.  I was sold immediately on the tiramisu while Becca opted for the chocolate cream pie.  Let me just say that they were both decadent and delicious.  We practically licked our plates clean!

Another great touch that I love about my new favorite restaurant is the adorable plates.  They each say: What are you grateful for?  This sense of positivity rings true through the entire restaurant.  In fact, when you sit down, they also ask you a question designed to get a conversation flowing.  Our question was: What do you love about new beginnings?   This prompted Becca and me to think about our beginning as a couple and our soon-to-be beginning as a married couple!

Finally, they have a I Am Grateful bowl that offers organic food to anyone in need.  The recommended price is $7 but for $14 you can pay it forward and make sure someone in need gets yummy, organic food.  The bowl consists of quinoa, shredded kale and black beans with a tahini-garlic sauce.  How freaking great is that?  I hope Cafe Gratitude prospers in the Los Angeles!

Cafe Gratitude Los Angeles
Phone (323) 580-6383
639 N. Larchmont BlvdLos Angeles, CA

Friday, March 4, 2011


So a new restaurant opened in my neighborhood.  My best friend Kelli was in town last weekend and beginning to tire of vegan restaurants I think (I know I don't understand it either).  We walked passed this Mediterranian place that advertised free wine with purchase of entree. SOLD!  What I didn't expect was a full page Vegan menu.  There were lots of things that looked interesting but the "Steak" Schawarma had me at fake beef strips, Middle Eastern spice and hummus.  I sorta forgot to take a picture because I was so excited to try it.  I gotta say that this was scrumptious.  I wasn't a huge fan of the side salad though.  There was mint in the dressing that fucked with my pallate in a not fun way.  The schawarma itself was great though.  I looked forward to eating my left overs but Becca beat me to them.

Becca got the hummus platter.  This was only 6 bucks and plentiful.  The first was olive, then pine nut and finally red pepper.  Becca preferred olive whereas I was all about the red pepper (perfect companions we are).  The pita wedges were delicious.  I asked if they were homemade but the server didn't know, which makes me assume not.  As for the wine, we were only supposed to get one glass per entree but we each got two for FREE!  I highly recommend people stop by and check it out.